“Cupid Captive,” c. 1870
St. Valentine’s Day is upon us, a “holiday” many people love to hate. Even if you shun forced commemoration, there is nothing wrong with a little romance, whether you express it on February 14 or—better still—all year round.
Although little Cupid is technically the god of love in the romantic and erotic sense, I can think of a few times at the Library where I’ve swooned over unexpected discoveries in the collections here. Like this sweet little watercolor from the mid-19th century I found when searching for “roses”:
Flower Arrangement with Red Rose, c. 1830–50
February is also African American History Month, and you will find lots of resources for research and inquiry. In February we also commemorate Presidents Day, and of course the Library of Congress has presidential resources in spades.
Following are just a few suggestions for falling in love with your Library this month.
Color our collections: Cultural institutions across the country celebrate “Color Our Collections” week every year in February. The Library has built a Pinterest board featuring coloring pages from our historic newspaper collections. Sharpen your colored pencils and settle in by a fire on a cold afternoon.
Listen to poetry: For the serious romantic, dive into this collection of readings from poets including Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Frost and Mario Vargas Llosa. I particularly like the readings from the Recording Laboratory, like this one of Barbara Guest from June 6, 1960. You can explore the full list here.
Frame a historic photograph from Paris: Not many locations beat the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop for romance. The Library not only has countless historic images of the iconic structure online (here is one from 1889 during its debut at the Paris Exposition), but it also offers high-quality reproduction services.
Explore African American History Month resources: The Library of Congress works with other federal cultural institutions to present heritage month sites featuring items from across our collections. The African American History Month site includes resources on topics from civil rights history to culture and folklife. A selection of curated images can be found here.
Visit an online exhibition on African-American history: The Library has curated many exhibitions over the years about the African-American experience, including The African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship from 1998, The African-American Mosaic from 1994 and, more recently, The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom from 2014–16.
Read one of Ulysses Grant’s letters to Julia Dent: There are a lot of them, as Grant was a frequent writer to his beloved wife. This one was selected by the collection’s curator as a featured item. It was written in February of 1854, while Grant was stationed in Humboldt Bay, California. Here, you get a glimpse not of a president, but of a husband and father, missing his family.
Zoom in on Lincoln’s reading copy of his second inaugural address: Also in honor of President’s Day, click here to see a fascinating piece of history—in full color scanned from the original document for the first time.
Countdown to baseball: Spring training has officially begun, and in a few short weeks it will be opening day. The Library is opening a major exhibition, “Baseball Americana,” on June 29 ahead of the 2018 All-Star Game in Washington. Mark your calendars and follow the Library’s social media accounts beginning opening day—March 29!